The Scrutiny & Overview Committee of Croydon Council will consider the progress being made on the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls at its meeting on Tuesday 1 November and ask questions of Cabinet member Councillor Timothy Godfrey.
These are the key points.
- ‘The work to Fairfield Halls is part of phase 1’ of the wider College Green Development ‘and taking place under the structure of Brick by Brick.’
- ‘The hoardings are up and initial scoping works underway, to be followed by soft and hard strip out and full refurbishment.’
- ‘The formal procurement process to secure an operator for Fairfield Halls has been started and will conclude in May of 2017.’
- ‘A website has been established to provide information on the refurbishment as it progresses and there will be further local and public engagement following the appointment of an operator.’ (Note: the url is not given and nothing comes up on Google search – as at 30 October)
‘As part of the arrangements around the closure, the Council allocated £750,000 to the Trust; £300,000 towards the cultural programme from April to July 2016 and £450,000 towards the costs of closure.’
- ‘Both parties signed an agreement to this plan which included an agreement to an asset sale undertaken by the Trust.’
- ‘Croydon council officers liaised with the lead for Human Resources at Fairfield Croydon Ltd to offer access to the Croydon Works jobs brokerage scheme and vacancies in the council. An offer of a support package was also made from the Job Centre Plus locally.’
- ‘Croydon Council also took back the pensions liability relating to staff from the Trust who had previously been council employees.’
Continuity of Knowledge
‘The technical team on the project, Mott MacDonalds, retained the General Manager of Fairfield Halls, as someone with a current working knowledge of the building, in a technical capacity to oversee aspects of managing the building during the period of refurbishment.’
Theatres Trust Report
The Theatres’ Trust peer review of the refurbishment scheme ‘was an extremely useful and timely exercise, the results of which have already been fed into the design work and effected a number of changes.’
The report summarises the main features of the design, and also sets out changes that have been made especially as a result of the Theatre’s Trust peer review.
- ‘the elements that would have a real impact on the customer experience such as the air cooling systems and the catering changes were also highlighted.’
- ‘the Ashcroft Theatre will now include new seating and a new layout that will enable an increase in capacity to over 800 from its current 750.’
- ‘The original plans for a radical alteration to the get in at the back of the venue by knocking through a large entrance and installing two lorry lifts has now been taken out of the £30m scope.’
- ‘Instead the team have a simpler solution whilst retaining enough space at the rear of the building to ensure any future changes can be accommodated.’
- ‘To complement the new Fairfield Halls and enhance the area as a cultural destination, a new high quality public square is proposed in College Green and in the forecourt of the Halls. This will include new trees and green spaces as well new seating, areas of informal play, and a new outdoor performance space to complement the activity in Fairfield Halls.’
- ‘New active frontages are proposed around the square with a range of uses including the new interface to the side of the Ashcroft Theatre to integrate the Fairfield Halls and College Green area.’
- ‘Improved lighting and public realm will have a positive impact in terms of people feeling safer in the area.’
The Role of Brick by Brick
‘It was agreed at Cabinet in June 2016 to use the Brick by Brick structure to bring forward those elements of the College Green scheme where the council holds land interests and/or options.’ Brick by Brick is the Council owned development company.
- ‘This will at least include Phase 1 (the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls, the initial residential development, the enabling works for the college facility and some public realm works) and Phase 2 (the delivery of the new college building, the redevelopment of the existing college land and the remainder of the public realm works).’
- ‘The process involves the transfer of land interests of the relevant parts of the site to Brick by Brick …..’
- It ‘will complete the £30m package of improvement works to Fairfield Halls under licence.
Note: The accountability of Brick by Brick has been queried by Robert Ward on Croydon Citizen at
August: Securing site, hoardings and signage – completed
September: detailed asbestos R&D survey – completed
October: dimensional surveys – completed
September to February 2017: structural, M&E and condition surveys and investigations
October: soft strip out and removal of loose fittings
November to March: phased asbestos strip out
December to March: strip out of engineering systems
January to April: procurement of contractor for the next phase of works
‘An asset management plan has been developed to ensure that key assets within the building are protected through the refurbishment scheme.’
‘This includes a package of works to protect and maintain the organ in the Concert Hall by Harrison & Harrison, a specialist organ firm, for the duration of the scheme.’
Competitive ‘dialogue’ to appoint an operator began in October and will be concluded by May.
- The aim is to give the ‘appointed operator over a year for the mobilisation in the lead up to the venue re-opening. ‘
- Tender Requirements
- A ‘balanced programme that includes high quality product across art forms and space for community and locally driven events.’
- The ‘need for the venue to provide a welcoming environment with excellent customer service’
- Audience development and public engagement ‘prior to the opening and on an ongoing basis.’
- At least one Council session to bring the operator ‘together with local promoters and users for dialogue on what their future needs would be.’
‘Croydon Museum is working with the Fairfield Arts Board to conserve and consolidate the archive material from Fairfield Halls. The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and has a significant oral history element, gathering, preserving and presenting the histories of Fairfield Halls as it looks towards the next stage of its future.’
‘A dedicated website has been developed to offer continual updated information on the progress of the refurbishment programme. This can be found at: https://fairfieldcroydon.wordpress.com
My discussion piece on the archive work can be seen on Croydon Citizen at
Report to Scrutiny
The full report to the Scrutiny Committee can be accessed at https://secure.croydon.gov.uk/akscroydon/users/public/admin/kabmenu.pl?cmte=SOC
Questions at October Council Meeting
So far the text of the questions from members of the public at the full Council meeting held on 17 October have not been posted. The possible exception posted on 28 October. Is this one on the Halls from Peter Collier:
‘Is it true that the £30M allocated for the proper revamping of Fairfield Halls might not be enough if so what is the new figure, and has the management committee of the charity which ran the halls sorted out the its affairs with the Council over the £4.4M pension deficit.’
Cabinet member Alison Butler has replied:
‘The £30m scheme for the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls will deliver a proper revamp of the building which will see improvements to the Concert Halls, Ashcroft Theatre, Arnhem Gallery and the foyer spaces as well as further improvements through the building including the mechanical and electrical make-up of the building, creating the ability for different parts of the building to operate independently and reducing running costs. The building will see better integration with the surrounding areas and see an enhanced appearance of the building with façade and window improvements.
The pension liability of up to £4.4m is the sum in relation to employees who were originally council employees who then moved to the Fairfield (Croydon) Ltd. With the closure of the Trust, this long term liability returns to the council.‘